Growing up in a rugby-mad house, and with his father having played at provincial level for Western Province, Oliver Kebble will realise a boyhood dream should he get game time for the DHL Stormers on Saturday.
Kebble was this week named on the bench for the DHL Stormers ahead of their 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby opener against the Lions at Ellis Park (kick-off 19h10).
The massive loosehead prop will provide front row cover for former SA Under-20 teammate Steven Kitshoff, Kebble one of five players in the Stormers matchday squad who will be getting a first taste of Super Rugby action.
“I’ve supported the DHL Stormers since I was 11 years old,” an excited Kebble told www.iamastormer.com. “To play for this team, just to be in the 23… it’s a dream come true for me.
“It was great being involved in our pre-season matches against the Bulls, Kings and Boland, but this week has been a different build-up for me – this is a Super Rugby match, so it’s even more special (for me).”
Kebble and back Ryno Eksteen are the two Vodacom Super Rugby debutants on the bench, whilst winger Kobus van Wyk, centre Michael van der Spuy and lock Manuel Carizza will all be starting this game on debut for the DHL Stormers.
Said Kebble: “The coaches have been very supportive of us all this week. They’ve told us to keep playing (as we have been) and to take any opportunities which come our way.”
Having finished his schooling at Bishops in 2010, Kebble spent the 2011 season playing junior club rugby in France, at Mont de Marsan.
Oli returned to South Africa in 2012 and was promptly included in the SA Under-20 team which won the IRB U20 World Championship, before moving into the DHL Western Province Under-21 team for the rest of the season, having also made an appearance for the WP Vodacom Cup team in between.
Last year he emerged as a key man for the title-winning DHL WP Under-21 team, finishing 2013 as the team’s Forward of the Year and being included in the DHL Stormers training squad for this season – all that despite missing the semifinals and final of the Under-21 Provincial Competition with an ankle injury.
“I was gutted to have missed the Under-21 semifinals and final,” admitted Kebble, a destructive scrummager and equally damaging ball-carrier.
“We had a special Under-21 team last year, both on and off the field, we had a lot of fun. Kobus (van Wyk) and I are fortunate to have taken the step up from (last year) and it’s an exciting opportunity for us as youngsters who come up through the ranks at Province.”
Of course, making his potential debut even more special is the fact that Oli’s dad Guy played 18 matches in the Blue & White hoops of Western Province in 1988/89, before moving to Durban and, later, representing the Springboks too.
“My dad has never put any unnecessary pressure on me, but his support throughout my childhood and rugby career has been invaluable,” said Kebble Junior. “He has always told me to treat every day in my career as my last and (to) never to take a step backwards.
“I never thought I would one day emulate him and play for DHL Western Province and/or the DHL Stormers, so it really is a big thrill for me,” added Oli, who confirmed that his dad would be in the crowd at Ellis Park on Saturday.
“I intend on savouring the moment, after all you only make your debut once, but – at the same time – I need to ensure that I do make an impact and don’t let the team’s standards drop should I get an opportunity (against the Lions).”